By: Daisy Hemmen
You know the drill. After a long day, you take off all of your clothing, toss it into the laundry basket, and pull on your comfiest sweats. Then, when laundry day comes around, you separate the light from the dark clothes, wash the two loads, and shove everything into the dryer.
Odds are you’re including your underwear in this cycle.
However, your underwear should be washed differently for the best results.
Ideally, you should wash your undies separately, either by hand or in a lingerie bag, with a gentle detergent. And they should never go into your dryer. Why should you bother learning how to wash underwear? Because it is one of the factors that affect how often to replace underwear.
Keep reading this guide for all the details on how to wash underwear like a pro.
Step #1: Wash Your Underwear Separately
The biggest mistake most people make is not separating their underwear from the rest of the laundry before washing them.1 It doesn’t matter if it’s eco-friendly underwear, bamboo underwear, cotton underwear, or silk underwear. This simple step is important because it:
- Protects delicate fabrics from damage
- Prevents the transfer of bacteria from your underwear to your other clothing
- Allows you to wash your underwear at the right temperature
Taking a few extra minutes to separate your undergarments from the rest of the pile will help prolong the life of your favorites which we think is definitely worth the effort.
Hand Wash vs. Washing Machine
Ideally, you’d hand wash all of your underwear to protect the delicate fabrics and prevent them from being damaged by your other laundry.2 Specific types of underwear also benefit from being hand-washed, like panties with pockets (You might be asking, “What is the pocket in panties for?”). However, if this isn’t in the cards, we understand if you resort to machine wash. The time savings and convenience of the washing machine are tough to beat.
Furthermore, you might not have enough underwear to justify washing them in their very own load of laundry. If you’re worried about cleaning underwear in the washing machine safely, there’s a simple and effective answer: the lingerie bag.
Lingerie bags are inexpensive mesh bags that can be used to separate your undergarments from the rest of your laundry. This is a solid solution when you have a few pairs to wash but not enough to run a cycle for the underwear alone.
Step #2: Kill Bacteria With a Gentle Detergent
You might be wondering how to wash underwear to kill bacteria since you know it’s important to prevent the spread of microorganisms to your other clothing. Luckily, a mild detergent will do the trick without harsh chemicals that can damage delicate fabrics. Some tips for applying detergent include:
- Go light – Don’t use too much detergent—it can leave behind a soapy residue.
Detergent manufacturers also sell mild detergent specifically for delicates.
- Avoid rubbing – If you’re hand washing your underwear, don’t rub the soap into the fabric. This can cause the material to deteriorate more rapidly. Instead, gently plunge the underwear in and out of the water.
- Don’t squeeze – Never hand-ring the excess water out of your underwear. You’ll end up with panties that don’t fit correctly because they’re stretched out of shape.
Why Is It Important To Kill Bacteria?
Bacteria can survive a laundry cycle if you don’t properly clean your underwear. Excess bacteria can:
- Spread to your other clothing
- Linger in your washing machine
- In rare cases, cause infection when you wear underwear with old bacteria still on them
The best way to avoid infection and bacterial spread is to wash your underwear separately with a gentle soap using the right water temperature. Some experts even recommend cleaning your washing machine regularly with a water and vinegar solution to ensure that bacteria is removed.
Step #3: Use the Appropriate Water Temperature
Whether you’re washing underwear by hand or in the washing machine, you should use warm water.3 Around 60 degrees is ideal as it will help ward off bacteria but won’t cause your more sensitive garments to shrink. Silk and lace can be damaged by water that’s too hot.
Step #4: Hang Dry For Best Results
Lastly, you should avoid tossing your underwear into the dryer at all costs. Even on a low heat setting, the dryer can get too hot. The tumbling motion can also cause damage to the thin fabrics and elastic of your panties.
Instead, hang dry your garments either on a rack or outdoors. If you hang dry them outside, avoid putting your underwear in direct sunlight as it can damage materials like silk and satin.
Other reminders when washing underwear:
Don't use fabric softeners because they leave harmful residue, especially for delicate underwear.
When removing stubborn stains, apply and rub baking soda to the affected areas until the stains disappear and wash as usual.
Find Your Perfect Pair With Boody Eco Wear
Which team are you on in the boxers vs. briefs debate? No matter which side you’re on, washing your underwear properly doesn’t have to be a chore. All it takes are a few simple steps to get clean, comfy, un-stretched pairs lining your drawer. The right care will help you keep your underwear longer, which is better for your wallet and the environment.
At Boody, we believe in stylish, comfortable, and sustainable clothing. That’s why we make our underwear collection from bamboo-derived viscose. We think you’ll fall in love at first fit, so try our underwear today. You won’t regret it.
About the Author:
Daisy Hemmen is a San Diego State University Fowler College of Business alumni. Based in Encinitas, California, Daisy is a part of the marketing team at Boody North America. She is passionate about learning the ins and outs of living a happy and healthy lifestyle that benefits both people and the planet, and enjoys sharing her bountiful findings with the community.
- Women’s Health. Guide to Cleaning Your Undergarments. https://www.womenshealthmag.com/style/a19915646/guide-to-cleaning-your-undergarments/
- Real Simple. How to Do Laundry. https://www.realsimple.com/home-organizing/cleaning/laundry/how-do-laundry
- Laundry Heap. How to Wash Your Underwear. https://www.laundryheap.co.uk/blog/how-to-wash-your-underwear/
- Underwear Expert. Six Do’s and Don’t’s for Washing Your Underwear, https://www.underwearexpert.com/blog/2014/01/six-dos-and-donts-for-washing-your-underwear/
- Rachel Ambrose, Hunker. How to Remove Underwear Stains, https://www.hunker.com/13422951/how-to-remove-underwear-stains